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Whether you are a runner who has taken some time off or just consider yourself a beginner, setting a goal of running 5km (aka 3.1 miles) is a great way to start the New Year. Even though training for a 5K isn’t quite the same commitment as training for a longer run like a marathon, it still requires strategy and planning in order to be successful safely.

Not quite ready to don these running shoes again? Running has a ton of benefits that will help convince you to start, if you’re still on the fence. “Running will improve just about every part of your body, inside and out,” says Tone & Sculpt coach Melissa Kendter. “It keeps your heart healthy, regulates your blood pressure, improves cognitive function, improves mood, manages weight, builds confidence and more.”

No matter where you are in your running training, Kendter shares some of the top mistakes to avoid on your first 5K below and some more tips on how to get started.

3 mistakes to avoid during a 5K workout

Start too fast and too far

As excited as you are to start running your first 5K, you’ll want to start your training in a sustainable way and avoid running too fast or too long at first. “Your body has to get used to the new stresses of running and you have to give it time to gradually get used to the new demands for long term running success,” says Kendter.

To make your first 5k easier, try starting with shorter run / walk intervals. Over time, Kendter says, you can slowly increase the length of your run and shorten your steps until you can reach the total distance of 5 km. How long it takes you to increase your running time will depend on your starting fitness level and running experience, but in general you’ll want to plan to train for at least four weeks before a 5K, and seven. weeks if you are a total beginner, according to the training plans we have reviewed.

Neglect its shape

Kendter points out that running is a tough sport, so remember to focus on your form. “Focus on running with your shoulders relaxed and on short, light, quick steps, landing below your center of mass,” she says.

No cross training

Running is a great way to exercise, but on its own it won’t tick all the boxes you want to check when it comes to a complete fitness routine. “Make sure you bodybuilding also – your body likes variety – and doing different types of exercise reduces stress on your joints and spine, ”says Kendter.

Other modalities that you might want to stack in your running routine are elongation, yoga, Pilates or other activities that help you develop flexibility and strength. All of these can help complete your routine as they are not cardio-focused.


When you start training for a 5K, it’s best to focus on your time spent running rather than your pace.

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How to Train for a Successful 5K

While the exact type of training program you start with will depend on personal factors like your current fitness level and your schedule, you can look at training plans like the ones below to get started. If you’re not sure what your fitness level or what type of program is right for you, talk to a certified trainer or running trainer who can help you develop a plan that’s right for you.

“For someone who’s never run before, you just want to get on your feet and familiarize yourself with long distance walking and jogging. Don’t focus on the pace, instead focus on the time spent running. walk / jog and increase your endurance, ”says Kendter. .

And if you’re more active or have run before, your training regimen may feel different or more advanced. “As someone who has run a little or is very active, you can alternate between running days, rest days and add strength training as needed,” suggests Kendter.

Free 5K training plans to try:

Mayo Clinic 7 Week 5K Training Program For Beginners

Nike Run Club 5K Training Plan

The information in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended for health or medical advice. Always consult a physician or other qualified health care professional with any questions you may have about a health concern or health goals.